Healthy living

Olive oil may help prevent stroke

Olive oil may help prevent stroke Halves risk in those over 65

Dietary olive oil may help prevent stroke in older people, a study suggests.

French researchers scrutinised the medical records of more than 7,000 people to find out how diet and other lifestyle factors affected the risk of someone having a stroke. All the participants lived in Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpelier and were aged 65 and over and had no history of stroke.

Participants were asked about the amount of olive oil in their diet. Olive oil consumption was categorised as "moderate" if it was used in cooking or with bread and as "intensive" if used both for cooking and as a dressing or with bread.

After around five years, 148 of the people had a stroke.

Those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing had a 41 per cent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet, the study found.

Put into perspective, the overall risk of stroke was 1.5 per cent in regular olive oil users compared to 2.6 per cent in the never-users over six years.

The men and women involved in the study mainly used extra virgin olive oil, which is most common in France.

Dr Cécilia Samieri, at the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, who led the study, said: "Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older.

"Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."

Each year around 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK, and more than 60,000 die from one. Stroke is the third most common cause of death after heart disease and all cancers. Seven out of 10 strokes are due to blood clots interrupting the flow of blood to the brain.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sharlin Ahmed at The Stroke Association said: “Olive oil has long been known to have potential health benefits.

"It is believed that it could protect against conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease and so it’s promising to see that it could have a similar protective function against stroke.

"However, it’s important to note that a person’s risk of stroke would only be reduced through consuming olive oil as an alternative to other cooking fats and as part of a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and salt.

"This is also a study based on responses from the public and not a clinical trial. A lot more research therefore needs to be carried out to scientifically test the effectiveness of olive oil as an ingredient that can protect against stroke.”

This article was published on Thu 16 June 2011

Image © Luis Carlos Jiménez -

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